15 Most Common Languages of English Language Learner Students

By 2025, an estimated 25 percent of K-12 public school students will be English language learners (ELLs). This increase in students also means an increase in language diversity — there are over 300 languages spoken in today’s US public schools. Below, data from the US Department of Education shows the most 15 commonly-spoken home languages by ELLs and their families, and how they’ve changed over time.

Home LanguageEnglish language learners, 2008 to 2009English language learners, 2009 to 2010English language learners, 2011 to 2012English language learners, 2012 to 2013English language learners, 2013 to 2014English language learners, Fall 2014
Spanish, including Castilian3,617,5973,577,6493,562,8603,718,0473,770,8163,709,828
Arabic65,27871,22886,16297,971109,170109,165
Chinese77,24080,12496,509104,799107,825104,279
Vietnamese91,60793,20489,53692,56089,70585,289
English, examples of situations in which English might be reported as an English learner’s home language include students who live in multilingual households and students adopted from other countries who speak English at home but also have been raised speaking another language.86,39077,87285,24690,70391,66983,230
Hmong52,99049,69743,84541,36839,86037,412
Somali26,26427,77127,86130,95934,47233,712
Russian34,08533,34932,22533,67833,82132,493
Haitian, including Haitian Creole37,07439,73639,88338,768337,37131,428
Haitian, including Haitian Creole37,07439,73639,88338,768337,37131,428
Tagalog38,84937,03832,76635,39532,14128,547
Korean43,16939,73933,70434,87432,44528,530
Urdu20,70521,21322,21922,59022,499222,294
French16,52518,50418,84920,01820,79920,275
Portugese18,05515,22915,72517,08519,14219,839
Japanese16,21214,58215,01116,72716,59116,403

Note: Includes all students who identified as English language learners —both those participating in ELL programs and those not participating in ELL programs. Data include all ELL students enrolled in public elementary and secondary schools nationally at any time during the school year.

SOURCE: U.S. Department of Education, National Center for Education Statistics, EDFacts file 141, Data Group 678, extracted August 24, 2016, from the EDFacts Data Warehouse (internal U.S. Department of Education source); Common Core of Data (CCD), “State Nonfiscal Survey of Public Elementary and Secondary Education,” 2008-09 through 2014-15.

English language learner (ELL) students enrolled in public elementary and secondary schools, by grade, home language, and selected student characteristics: Selected years, 2008-09 through fall 2014